Saturday, January 15, 2011

Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly)

Gene Kelly is singin' in the rain.

Film Review Archive (date seen: September 14, 2010)

"Singin' in the Rain" might be the closest a film can get to a perfect musical. Some films of the kind, although impressive in its showcase of its extravagant production values, lacks the pure magic of telling a memorable story, drowning the project instead with countless song numbers to conceal the deficiency of the material itself, even so that some of them won Best Picture awards. Enter "Singin' in the Rain", a film that may look just like the others initially: style but no substance. But this film dared to remove the 'no', and succeeded.

The plot of the film may easily drift into some melodramatic musical numbers pertaining about the passing of old times and the silent era silenced forever by the emergence of the title card-less, full-fledged "talkies"; themes that can be effortlessly turned into a sad swan song of sorts for the said era. But with its mood and atmosphere departing from the typical treatment of the material, the film, directed by dance virtuoso Gene Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, flourished with almost uncontainable joy and genuine laughter, usually rooted out from the mishaps of transforming a silent film studio into a try-hard talkie producer. Add up Jean Hagen's unforgettable performance as Lina Lamont, a satiric attack for larger than life stars with smaller than penny brains, then you have a classic.

A concept that could have easily resulted into a tearful elegy about the transition of eras and the changing times always prevalent on the movie industry, but instead turned into a colorful celebration of film and music and of the successful passing of torch of two different cinematic deviations. Both proven by time as essential and significant to its (cinema) meteoric emergence as the prime medium commonly associated with "entertainment".


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